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June 25, 2003
 Adam Radinsky, Deputy City Attorney, (310) 458-88327

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office is in the process of returning long-missing wedding photographs and other materials to some forty-nine couples who were customers of Juli Armitage, a photographer formerly based in Santa Monica.

On May 9, 2003, Armitage was convicted on four counts of grand theft. On that day she entered a plea bargain with the City and was placed on three years’ probation. The deal included a court order that she produce all missing photos and negatives and cooperate with the prosecution in identifying the couples in all of the photos and negatives. The terms of Armitage’s probation also included:  

  • Sixty days in L.A. County Jail, to be stayed pending successful completion of probation

  • Restitution to victims (pending hearing to determine amounts)

  • In future business, may charge no more than 10% down & 50% before job complete

  • Six months of psychological counseling

The City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit filed misdemeanor grand theft charges against Armitage in December 2002. The Unit’s investigation revealed that Armitage took full payment in advance—averaging around $2,000.00 each—from over 50 couples during the past three years. In six of the cases, Armitage failed to appear at the event entirely, never returned the money, and avoided the couples’ repeated efforts to reach her. In the remaining cases, she took pictures at the weddings and got the film developed (usually at Costco), but then refused to produce any of the costly prints, enlargements, leather-bound albums, or other items she had promised. When the couples tried to reach her, she ignored their repeated calls and letters. 

Many couples also alleged that Armitage arrived at the weddings hours later than promised; changed the terms of the deal after they had paid in full; and did sub-par work, among numerous other problems.

Armitage was arrested in Ventura on April 28 after failing to appear at a routine court hearing in Santa Monica earlier that month. She spent eleven days in Los Angeles County Jail, during which time the terms of the plea bargain were agreed upon. She was released from jail on May 9 after entering the no contest pleas. 

Since her release from jail, Armitage has returned to the prosecution numerous books of photos and rolls of negatives owed to the victims. She and her attorney met four times with prosecutors in recent weeks to identify the couples associated with the many unmarked items. 

The City Attorney’s Office now has identified all of the missing photographs and negatives. It recently began returning the missing materials to the 49 couples. 

In one case, the bride is on duty in the U.S. military and returned from Iraq in May for a large family reunion. That couple’s pictures, which they never had seen before, were sent to them just in time for the reunion. The couple was married in September 2002. 

After the L.A. Times printed a story about the case on May 7, six additional couples read the story and filed complaints with the City Attorney’s Office. Each of those couples now will receive the missing photos and/or negatives turned over by Armitage. 

“This was a very emotional case for the victims,” said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky. “These people put their most precious memories, and a lot of money, in the hands of someone who just took advantage of them. It’s sad that it took time in jail to finally persuade her to cooperate with us. We’re just glad that we were able to get most of the people their pictures back.” 

“We advise anyone shopping for a wedding photographer to always check with the Better Business Bureau about past complaints and to verify that the photographer has a business license,” said Radinsky. “And if possible, never pay the full amount until you’ve gotten all of your pictures.”

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This page was last updated on 02/28/11.